Riding just for fun is not one of those reasons.
Telling my coach I was done training broke my heart. He’s one of the best coaches in the country (he coaches Olympian Chloe Woodruff!), but for 3 months I’d been trying to jump back into training consistently and it wasn’t working. Back in early April, I had this feeling of It’s-Now-Or-Never, and I managed a short streak of consistent workouts. Then, more change, more stress, more things on my to-do list, more unknown, and I fell off the wagon again.
Honestly, I started dreading being on my bike alone. Late night rides were exciting enough to overcome the dread for awhile. The thought no one cares about you and your dumb bike goals was thrilling, instead of sad, when I was over 40 miles away from town and not a soul knew where I was or when I was planning on coming back. But it wasn’t thrilling enough to sink my teeth back into elite level dedication. I needed to quit training.
Quit training? then why ride?
I don’t think I will ever be capable of oh, I do this just for fun. Nor do I really want to reach that level of happy-go-lucky. It wouldn’t be me. Doing it just for fun might be how other people want me to act, but just for fun doesn’t challenge the status quo, challenge me, or challenge the people I ride with. To ride just for fun is not why I quit training.
The dark cloud of training-plan-failure looming over my head disappeared once I quit training. And my excitement for long rides finally come back. Now, instead of logging onto Training Peaks for my workouts, I ask myself before each ride, if not just for fun, and if not to win races and break records, then why I am I riding today?
I met one of my best friends in Flagstaff through bikes. Our friendship only knows bikes; if we tried doing other things together (like going out for dinner without a bike ride beforehand or without the goal of making a ride plan over dinner) our connection wouldn’t be as strong. Truthfully, one of us would probably find a reason to bail.
Getting lost on long rides, pushing through fatigue, and trying knew lines is our platform for talking shit out. Mountain biking is a magical combination, really. On every ride, there’s time to space out and reflect. Time to engage both brain and body in technical terrain. And time to talk about everything (and, with this friend, I mean literally everything).
Now that I’ve quit training, there’s more time to really ride bikes.
List of Reasons Why I Ride Bikes (Rough Draft)
- To connect with people
- To see new places—and see a lot of places in just one ride
- To zone out and just pedal (to de-stress and also problem solve)
- To focus and engage in the present (ain’t nothing quite like riding a sandstone waterfall to make this happen)
- To laugh
- To end the day with zero juice left in my legs (it feels so good, I don’t know how else to explain it)
Looking Ahead—and a Little Sideways—at my Arizona Trail Race Goal (I didn’t totally quit training)
Yes, I’m still planning to race the Arizona Trail in October. With so much unknown, though, my plans are loose. Southern sections of the trail were recently destroyed by forest fire. For the race to happen, I’m guessing some crazy reroutes will have to be put in place. The one thing the AZTR has going for it is Arizona’s grand master of insane reroutes is now in charge of the race.
In the end, I guess you could say I quit training in order to motivate to ride my bike more.